Linha De Passe

Linha De Passe


Reviewed by: Val Kermode

Against the backdrop of Brazil in a state of emergency, in one of the toughest, most chaotic cities in the world, Linha De Passe reunites the co-directors of Foreign Land and focuses, 12 years later, on one family and their struggle to find a way out.

The film opens with a woman in labour, a sea of hands and flags waving at a football match and the fervent prayers of a church congregation, then takes us back several months to introduce the pregnant woman and her four sons.

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In Sao Paulo, a city of 20 million inhabitants, this family represents the many who dwell in concrete slums, travelling in the dark each day to poorly paid jobs they are desperate not to lose.

Dario (Vinicius de Oliveira) is trying, like two million others, to make it into a soccer team, that classic way to transcend the social barriers in Brazil. But at 18 he is already regarded as too old and is seen changing his birthdate on his identity card in a vain attempt to get a trial.

Dênis (João Baldasserini) is one of the thousands of motorcycle couriers who risk their lives every day moving at high speed in the narrow corridors between car lanes. Their brother Dinho (José Geraldo Rodrigues) works at a filling station and is trying hard to live as a Christian, helping at a local evangelical church.

The youngest, Reginaldo (Kaiquede Jesus Santos), is keenly aware that, unlike the others, he does not know the identity of his father and in fact knows nothing about him except that he was black. He spends his days riding round the city on buses and persuading the drivers to give him lessons.

Just managing to hold her family together, Cleuza is superbly played by Sandra Corveloni. She is completely believable as a woman with almost no hope in her life, yet who is utterly honest (we see her handing to her employer money she has found in the washing) and who loves her sons dearly despite many scenes of anger and frustration.

Each member of the family is doing their best to survive honestly, and sometimes failing, so great are the odds stacked against them. Dario is persuaded to try drugs; Dênis gets caught up in theft, with almost disastrous consequences. Dinho has perhaps the greatest struggle, having set himself an impossibly high moral standard and labouring with guilt until his frustration finally spills over into a sudden act of violence.

All these characters were inspired by real stories. What happens to the youngest brother at the end of the film actually made headlines in the city four years ago. The cast is made up of unknown actors and non actors from the neighbourhoods where filming took place. The “family” lived in their house for several weeks before shooting started and got to know their neighbours, who are the actual guests at Dario’s birthday party in the film. In response to the directors’ desire to work with the energy of first time experiences, the crew was mostly composed of young professionals, including the young cinematographer, Mauro Pinheiro.

Holding together the various strands of the story is quite a task, and the pace does falter somewhat towards the end. But there are some amazing performances here and overall this is a triumph for all concerned.

Reviewed on: 11 Sep 2008
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The story of one family's struggle to survive poverty in Brazil.
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Director: Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas

Writer: George Moura, Daniela Thomas

Starring: Sandra Corveloni, João Baldasserini, Vinícius de Oliveira, José Geraldo Rodrigues, Kaique Jesus Santos, Ana Carolina Dias

Year: 2008

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Brazil


CFF 2008

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